Mikaela Shiffrin repeats as World Cup overall champion

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OFTERSCHWANG, Germany (AP) — Mikaela Shiffrin can finally relax again.

After a tense build-up to the Olympics, the American won her second straight overall World Cup title on Friday, five races before the end of the season.

“It’s been a big battle for me mentally to know exactly where my focus should be,” said Shiffrin, who turns 23 on Tuesday. “It was quite a relief actually when the Olympics were over so I could focus on the rest of the World Cup season.”

Shiffrin won the Olympic gold medal in the giant slalom, and it was in Friday’s giant slalom that she clinched the overall World Cup title by finishing third. Ragnhild Mowinckel of Norway, the Olympic silver medalist, won the race.

Even before her final run, Shiffrin was guaranteed of winning the title because her only remaining rival, Wendy Holdener, failed to finish in the top two, which she needed to maintain her mathematical title chance. The Swiss skier finished 14th.

“That’s really exciting, for sure. It’s hard to explain that feeling really,” said Shiffrin, who holds a 603-point lead over Holdener in the overall standings with only Saturday’s slalom and four races at next week’s World Cup finals in Sweden remaining.

“The best thing for me now is to have the crystal globe already locked in,” she said. “I can really just enjoy the last races and not have to fight for points to win the globe.

“After last year when I won the overall, actually some people were saying like it’s sort of fake because the other girls weren’t there and there was nobody to challenge her. So, to have the overall this year locked in already before we even go to finals, it feels like confirmation for me.”

Last season, Shiffrin clinched the World Cup overall title after her closest challenger, Swiss Lara Gut, suffered a season-ending ACL tear at the February World Championships.

Shiffrin is the second American female skier to win multiple overall titles. Lindsey Vonn won the sport’s most coveted prize four times.

Friday’s result came exactly two months after Shiffrin’s last victory in a World Cup race. She racked up a personal best 10 World Cup wins this season, but they all came in a relatively short 46-day spell between Nov. 25 and Jan. 9.

She was a clear favorite to successfully defend her maiden overall title since setting a World Cup record by winning the first five races of 2018.

However, she failed to win another race after triumphing at a night slalom in Flachau, Austria. A dip in form during her last five races before the PyeongChang Olympics saw her failing to finish three times and placing seventh twice.

In South Korea, she won Olympic gold in the giant slalom and silver in the combined event, but missed out on a medal in her strongest discipline, the slalom. She vomited before the start and later said that nerves played a role.

“I had goals for the slalom and GS globes, the overall globe, Olympic medals,” Shiffrin said Friday. “My next biggest goal was to be strong for the end of the season.”

In her first race after the Olympics, Shiffrin was fourth after the opening run but improved a spot to third, 0.74 seconds behind Mowinckel.

The Norwegian won Olympic silver medals in both giant slalom and downhill last month but called her first career World Cup win “the best feeling there is.”

“I’ve worked hard for this a really long time,” Mowinckel said. “I knew my skiing was solid.”

Viktoria Rebensburg of Germany finished 0.66 behind in second and closed in on the season title in the discipline. With one race remaining, she leads world giant slalom champion Tessa Worley of France by 92 points in the discipline standings.

Friday’s result stretched Rebensburg’s lead over Shiffrin to 101 points, leaving the American out of contention for the GS title.

However, Shiffrin could add another discipline globe this weekend, holding a 175-point lead over Petra Vlhova of Slovakia going into the penultimate slalom race of the season on Saturday (6:30 a.m. ET, Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA).

“For sure I have a big lead,” Shiffrin said. “But nothing is impossible, so I am going to stay focused.”

Shiffrin skipped last weekend’s super-G and super combined in Crans-Montana, Switzerland. As did Vonn, who is also missing this weekend’s technical events (not her specialties) but will return for the World Cup finals.

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Final World Cup Alpine skiing races canceled

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ARE, Sweden (AP) — Viktoria Rebensburg won her third season title in the giant slalom on Sunday without hitting the slopes at the World Cup finals.

Strong winds forced the cancellation of the season-ending GS while the German skier led the standings by 92 points from world champion Tessa Worley of France, who won the title last season. With a win worth 100 points, Rebensburg was a strong pre-race favorite to wrap up the title.

The last men’s slalom was also canceled, but that didn’t affect the final standings because Marcel Hirscher had already locked up the overall and discipline titles two weeks ago.

Both races were called off shortly before their respective starts as gusts made conditions on the hill potentially unsafe for the skiers. According to FIS rules, events at World Cup finals cannot be rescheduled.

Rebensburg, the Olympic GS gold medalist in 2010, also won the World Cup GS title in 2010-11 and 2011-12.

“It’s really something special. It’s been a few years now since my last globe. I am very proud that I managed to win it again,” said Rebensburg, who struggled with injuries in recent seasons.

She ruptured ligaments in her left knee three years ago and fractured the tibial plateau in her right leg just before the start of last season.

“Every globe has a special meaning but this one is more emotional because of the time in-between,” Rebensburg said. “I know what’s behind winning a globe. You have to be consistent throughout a whole season.”

In the overall standings, Rebensburg finished third behind winner Mikaela Shiffrin and runner-up Wendy Holdener of Switzerland.

Shiffrin, who had secured her second straight overall title last week, wrote on Twitter that she agreed with the decision to call off the last event of the season.

“Ahhhhhhh shoot! The race is canceled! But it’s really windy up here so probably a good call,” the American said.

Shiffrin finished the season on 1,773 points, 130 more than last season when she won her maiden overall title. Holdener was the only other skier to gather more than 1,000 points this season — 1,168.

The men’s overall champion also applauded the cancellation.

“If you see the wind and how the slalom gates are moving, you don’t have to talk about a fair race or a quality race,” said Hirscher, who missed out on the chance to set a World Cup record by winning his 14th race of the season.

“That’s not the important thing,” he said. “It’s the right decision.”

After the cancellation of the women’s race, Manuela Moelgg announced her retirement after 18 seasons on the circuit. The Italian veteran secured 14 podiums, including three third-place finishes this season, but failed to win a race in 283 World Cup starts.

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Declan Farmer heroics lift U.S. to Paralympic hockey title in OT (video)

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Declan Farmer tied the Paralympic hockey final with 37.8 seconds to play, then scored the golden goal 3:30 into overtime to lift the U.S. over Canada 2-1 for gold on Sunday.

“It’s all a blur at the moment,” said Farmer, a 20-year-old Princeton student, “but when it comes back I will remember this day for the rest of my life.”

Farmer’s heroics gave the U.S. a third straight Paralympic title. No other nation has won two Paralympic golds in seven total tournaments.

The U.S. also finished the Winter Paralympics with the most medals (36) and most gold medals (13) for the first time since Albertville 1992.


When Farmer made a move seconds before scoring the tying goal, with the U.S. having pulled goalie Steve Cash, teammate and captain Josh Pauls thought to himself, “This is Declan Farmer time.” Farmer’s goal was the first allowed by Canada at the tournament, the shutout streak ending after 224 minutes.

Thirty seconds earlier, Canada’s Rob Armstrong had a chance to clinch gold on the empty net, but hit the post from an angle.

Farmer tallied a tournament-leading 11 goals and 17 points in his second Winter Games. His 14 career Paralympic goals are a U.S. record.

Last year, Farmer broke U.S. records for most goals (12) and points (18) at a world championship tournament, though Canada beat the U.S. in that final. He was born a bilateral amputee and started playing sled hockey at age 9.

Cash, who stopped 11 of 12 Canadian shots for his third Paralympic title, told Farmer after Sunday’s game that he was his hero.

“He’s the best overall sled hockey player to ever play the game,” Cash said, according to TeamUSA.org.

The U.S. dedicated its tournament to its 2014 Paralympic coach, Jeff Sauer, who died of pancreatic cancer in February 2017.

“Coach Sauer is watching over us,” Farmer said.

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